Teamwork saves lives

The success of Shane Morgan and Nick Farthing's teamwork can be the difference between life and death.

The two Catawba Valley Community College graduates have been working together two years, but they rely on each other daily to save lives.

Morgan and Farthing are one of the only permanent paramedic partners in Catawba County and work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. shift at the Emergency Medical Services base in Newton.

"If I have Shane, he knows what I want, and we're usually on the same page 99 percent of the time," Farthing said. "The more frequently you work with someone, the smoother things go."

Farthing, who became a paramedic after learning about CVCC's paramedic program in high school, said every call he and Morgan respond to requires a lot of teamwork.

Morgan agrees.

"When we're working together, he knows he doesn't have to do every little thing himself," Morgan said. "Teamwork is a huge part of our job."

Morgan got interested in being a paramedic after serving in the United States Army from 1994 to 2002. He did not want to pursue law enforcement like the rest of his family, but still enjoyed the rush and pleasure of being a public service officer.

"I still like the lights and sirens, the confusion and chaos, and all of those things attracted me to the job," Morgan said. "But it's not just about that, it's about helping out someone's family and friends."

Each day, Morgan and Farthing arrive at their base and start assessing their vehicles and equipment. After cleaning and evaluating their gear, Morgan said the rest of the day "is really dictated by call volume."

The Newton EMS base usually responds to about eight calls a day, with Morgan and Farthing sharing the workload with one other truck out of the base.

Though he said each call is different, Morgan said he and Farthing follow the same typical procedure every time they're dispatched.

"Unfortunately, there's no common thread from case to case," Morgan said. "Regardless of the call, assessment starts as soon as we walk on the scene."

After making patient contact, the paramedics check vital signs and then move on depending on the incident.

Morgan said the uncertainty in his job also makes it fun because he's doing something different every day.

But it's not always fun. Being a paramedic also means dealing with serious, traumatic and deadly accidents on a daily basis.

"The best training in the world can't prepare you for what you're going to see," Morgan said. "The toughest part is dealing with children, because it always makes me think of my own."

The two said they respond to nearly everything, from "a stubbed pinky toe to cardiac arrest."

Farthing said that sometimes holding someone's hand is the best comfort you can give them.

"We got a call one time that an elderly lady couldn't get up," Morgan said. "When we got there, she said she was hungry, so I made her a sandwich."